A church bus taking senior adults returning from a retreat in southwestern Texas on Wednesday crashed head-on with a pickup truck, killing thirteen people and injuring 2 others.
At about 12:20 p.m., the tiny passenger bus, taking 14 people, was traveling south on the 2-lane highway when a white Dodge pickup truck veered into its lane, hitting the bus and killing twelve passengers on the scene, including the bus driver.
1 woman died following in the hospital, although the 1 surviving passenger, a woman, outlasted in “serious but stable” condition. The driver of the truck got medical treatment for his injuries & remained in durable condition Wednesday night.
All who died were members of the choir at First Baptist Church in New Braunfels, Tex., & had just attended a 3-day retreat at Alto Frio Baptist Encampment in Leakey, Tex. The accident happened around 120 miles from the church, where the bus was directed.
Marcia Dean, a church member, and the former employee said the group of senior members on the bus “had a fabulous time” at the retreat.
“They sang and laughed and praised the Lord,” Dean said.
The explanation of the accident is still unknown, said Texas Department of Public Safety Lt. Johnny Hernandez, & authorities proceeded to rebuild the incident late Wednesday night. The National Transportation Safety Board has sent investigators to the scene, NTSB announced on Twitter.
Those killed were “parents and grandparents” & some of the most active members of the church’s tight-knit congregation of fewer than 500 people. A bus driver was retired teacher Murray Barrett, the San Antonio Express-News reported.
Amity Dohoney, 21, said the Express-News that the bus driver had taught her 7th- and 8th-grade math & that they remained close to the church.
“He was always such an upbeat person,” Dohoney said. “He loved people. He’d do anything to help them.”
The New Braunfels church was gathered late into the night Wednesday, as various of the families of those who were on the bus associated to wait for authorities to verify the names of the dead.
They got the news shortly before 9 p.m., Dean told. Local restaurants have given food to the church to feed the families, & pastors from different churches have reached out in support. The Counselors will be on hand at the church on Thursday.
At around 7:15 p.m., 3 dozen people from a Lutheran church in the street held hands & quietly walked over to join the families mourning, the San Antonio Express-News summarized.
“Our community has rallied around us,” Dean told. “We’ve been talking, we’ve been hugging, we’ve been crying and telling stories.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and his wife, Cecilia, offered their condolences in the hours after the crash.
“We are saddened by the loss of life and our hearts go out to all those affected,” their statement said. “We thank the first responders working on the scene in the wake of this unimaginable tragedy, and ask that all Texans join us in offering their thoughts and prayers.”
Several of the families & church members believed a sense of peace that those who died spent their final days praying & having a “blast.”
“They’ve gone home,” Dean said.